Your tax and licence fees are being spaffed away on Apple toys

The Apple iPad is training young British squaddies how to shell and mortar Afghan villages, as the tablet PC is being trialled as a replacement to traditional PowerPoint lectures. Flattening and exploding villagers in a futile war? There’s an app for that!

Soldiers will be using the Fire Control Orders app at the Royal School of Artillery in Wiltshire. It’s designed to be used in line with more traditional classroom approaches, but will be available for practice in the Ministry of Defence’s Learning Portal, a computer resource with access points at most military establishments.

Major Richard Gill of Training Development Branch reckons that learning about blowing stuff up through slides and lectures: “Our solutions are developed very much with the ‘iPod generation’ in mind.”

An Apple iTouch app is helping army pilots learn their way around vehicle recognition too, which is set to be integrated into the general helicopter pilots’ course and evaluated for wider use.

We guess with the amount splurged on “defence” each year buying a ton of iPads won’t make a noticeable difference. They also double up as handy shields in the field, makeshift tables to eat rations from, and some suggest that by parachuting iPads with PopCap games pre-loaded into enemy territory may distract them long enough to launch a full and successful assault.

This is Osborne’s Age of Austerity. According to Leicester Council, its plans to give iPads to all 54 council members is perfectly in line with that.

The Torygraph reports on a Labour councillor, Sarah Russell, who thinks that bringing iPads into meetings instead of printing stuff out could “potentially save” £90,000 each year. She will be getting the highest spec 64 GB model bought for her by the taxpayer.

“I have a laptop but it is quite heavy. It’s awkward to take to several meetings in a day,” she whinged. 

Another councillor suggests that having an iPad makes him a more productive member of the council, because if a constituent stops him in the street “he can write down and begin researching their problems immediately” because he’s connected to the internet. Did Conservative group leader Ross Grant just admit that his job would be FUBAR without Google?

Aunty’s at it too. Computing reports that the Beeb hopes it too will bring in an age of paperless meetings. John Linwood, CIO at the Beeb, suggested that Americans *hate* paper and we should be more like them: “On the west coast of the US, if you brought paper to a meeting, they’d look at you strangely. If you actually handed out paper they’d get upset.”

It’s true that public bodies spend way too much dosh on printing out paper. But perhaps buying a high spec iPad with a data plan for everyone in a department is not the answer, since they average around £700 a pop. 

The excuse being given by public figures spending the public’s cash on shiny toys is that they’re lightweight and useful, more mobile than laptops and easy as pie to use. If government and public bodies are crying out for tablet PCs, they should probably wait until the market gets flooded, as it will, instead of paying through the nose for a product Apple currently has the total monopoly on.

Apparently the BBC’s staff are trialling some Android devices too, which probably means one poor intern gets to use a beaten up old Archos  so the rest can justify playing on their iPads. The BBC is impartial.